amicus curious: the juror

Out of all the characters in a courthouse drama, jury members are one of the most fascinating. They’re enormously influential on a trial, for obvious reasons, but trials can be enormously influential on them as well. After the explosive Casey Anthony case, for example, some jurors up and moved out of town, even after the judge declared a “cooling off” period before their names could be released to the public.

Joey Stipek, who will soon be interning with me at the Student Press Law Center, didn’t face such a controversial case. “I had no problem with the verdict,” he said. “We voted guilty and the whole process of deliberation was about 45 minutes.”

Stipek was charged, along with 11 of his peers, with judging an embezzlement case in his hometown of Brooklyn. “It was my first and only time in a courtroom,” he said.

Still, he said he felt like the lawyers sufficiently explained the charges and the case, so he wasn’t overwhelmed. As someone who has watched many times from the sidelines, I know a courtroom can be a bizarre environment – but that probably depends on the case, the lawyers, the judge – the other members of the courthouse dramatis personae.

Author: Samantha Sunne

Samantha Sunne is a freelance reporter working on data and investigative stories

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